Sunday, April 22, 2018

I'm Sorry, This Counts As The 1980's

Regatta de Blanc by The Police

Released in October of 1979 (one of many reasons it should count as an 80's album) this was the band's second album and after the initial success of their first album, the band was anxious to build on the quality musical catalogue they were already building. Recorded over 4 weeks and at a cut-rate budget of @$10,000 (that's a small amount, even for 1979), the band was able to maintain creative control over the album and express their talents without any record label interference.

The band is in a whole other world from their first album, continuing the punk-rock aggression while expanding on the reggae rhythms and taking the song writing and lyrics to a whole new level. Consider that this is essentially a band with 4 lead singers: (1) the vocals of Sting, (2) his Bass, (3) Andy Summers guitar and (4) the drums of Stewart Copeland. All 4 elements are vying for the attention of the listener. And in most cases, they all win. I'm still amazed that I can listen to this album and hear new sounds coming from one of the "singers" in this band.

The album reached #1 in England but only reached #25 in the US. Its been listed among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine (I agree with them). Also the band brought home the Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the song Regatta de Blanc.

There were 4 singles released from this album, with Message In A Bottle being the first and among all 3 members of the band, its considered to be the best Police song they ever recorded (I also agree with them).

The video is typical for the time with some live shots of the band and the guys singing along to the song backstage. It only takes a few moments to see that drummer, Stewart Copeland is quite the ham and quite possibly the most annoying person in the band. His antics are meant to bother Sting while Andy just waits for everyone to stop being it any wonder they eventually broke up? But no matter what, the song is amazing as well as the rest of the album (go get a copy, if you don't already own one) and please.....enjoy it now.

Friday, April 20, 2018

If This Doesn't Make You Dance...You May Be Dead

One Step Beyond by Madness

Released in late 1979.............why are you still reading??....GO, LISTEN NOW!!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Can You See Me In The Crowd?

Depeche Mode
101 -  Concert For The Masses
Live At The Rose Bowl

June 18th, 1988....this was the most anticipated concerts of the year. I was actually at this concert. Here's my ticket....

The band was coming through town to support, what was, at that time, their biggest album, Music For The Masses. The band always a had special place in its heart for Los Angeles as the local radio station, KROQ, was an early and committed supporter. In fact, they had announced the concert live on the air one morning in mid spring from the stadium with Richard Blade, the morning radio host on KROQ at the time.

Here's a picture of a few of the band members on the morning of the announcement in the empty stadium with the section I ended up sitting in in the background.....

To fill the stadium, the band would have to sell over 56,000 tickets......they ended up selling over 60,000!!! Let me give you an idea of how the stadium looked on the morning of the concert before they let the crowd in.....

That's lead singer, Dave Gahan, with his young son.

The concert was amazing. The opening bands were Wire (I don't remember them), Thomas Dolby (who was and is, Always, great) and Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark (great set that day). It had been hot during the day and the Rose Bowl had zero shade so we were all out in the sun the whole time. As the sun set and Depeche Mode's set got closer to starting, the crowd started to entertain themselves. At one point there was a brief trash-throwing melee which looked fun from up where I was above all of it. Then the crowd got into a fun shouting match, where one side would yell, "tastes great!" and the other side would yell, "less filling!" (its a Miller Lite commercial from the era and we were bored waiting).

Here's what the crowd looked like from just above my seat....

Now, Depeche Mode's performance was not what any of them consider to be their best (they've all said as much in interviews over the years) buy you couldn't have found one person in the crowd that would agree with that assessment. The energy in the stadium was beyond electric and it was helped along when it started to briefly rain (it sure helped wash the hot air out of the stadium). The rain occasionally has been reported to have occurred during Blasphemous Rumours. I remember it starting during Sacred and continuing through the next 2 songs, Something To Do and Blasphemous Rumours. During Something To Do, the storm announced itself with a bolt of lightening that lit up most of the sky just to the south of the stadium. If you listen closely to the live album of the show, you can hear the crowd let out a huge cheer when the lightning strikes. Imagine what would happen today if 60,000 people were outside in a lightning storm.....they would cancel the show and send everyone home immediately. It would have been pandemonium. Thankfully, we lived in a less safety conscious time and the show was not stopped.

The best moment of the show was at the end of the main set during the song Never Let Me Down Again when Dave Gahan got the entire crowd waving their arms back and forth above their heads. It was an amazing, spontaneous moment and its now a permanent part of each live Depeche Mode show. The neat part is that the band was filming (and recording) the show that night for inclusion in a documentary film called 101 and so most of the show exists on video. I say "most" because the film makers didn't intend to film the whole show so there are a few songs missing from the film. But if you watch the video below, and you have really sharp eyes (like much better than me and I KNOW where I was sitting), you can see me in the crowd during the part when Dave is leading the crowd in waving their arms.

Please enjoy this amazing moment........


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Metal....The Way It Was Meant To Be

Foolin' by Def Leppard

Released in September of 1983, this was the 3rd single off their Pyromania album and it reached #28 on the US charts. The song was helped along in the charts by it strong, simple performance video (with a few artsy shots added in).

The song is the perfect example of early 80's metal. It had a great hard rockin' chorus and extra cool, vibe-y verses. Its sad to think that this was eventually replaced by bands like Poison and Winger (what were we thinking?). But lets enjoy this song now and try to find reasons to like those other songs later (maybe not).

The video was filmed on a day off from their US tour while they were in New Jersey and features a blind girl playing the harp. She was Billy Idol's girlfriend at the time......why she's blind.....I'm not sure.....not all early 80's videos are supposed to make sense. It was the music we wanted to hear and seeing the bands gave us an idea of who we were listening to. Also keep an eye out for the flag of the United Kingdom being worn as a pair of shorts and the many times that lead singer, Joe Elliot, nearly gets blown up by some sort of explosion....including very close to his hands!!!

Some of my favorite images from this video are; rhythm guitarist, Steve Clark, tossing his acoustic guitar aside so he can rock out on his electric guitar; Joe sticking the microphone stand right into the camera; and Joe coming right at the camera to sing the lyrics to us right after having his wrists nearly blown off.

Please enjoy.....and I make no apologies for Winger.

Monday, March 26, 2018

A Banjo Beat Michael Jackson

Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners

Released in June of 1982, this overly catchy song reached #1 on the US charts (and in 7 other countries) but it was what it prevented that makes it historic. For 7 weeks, Michael Jackson held the #1 spot on the US charts with the song Billie Jean. Then for 1 week, this song held the top spot and then Michael Jackson returned to the top spot for 3 weeks with Beat It. This song prevented the King Of Pop from having back-to-back #1 singles. The only time that had previously happened was when The Beatles had back-to-back #1 singles in 1964 (its happened a few times since the 80's but mostly from multi-artist rap songs). The song has been ranked the best one hit wonder from the 80's (quite a distinction and quite a field to be on top of).

The video was filmed in a south London neighborhood and features the younger sister of a member of the band Bananarama as "Eileen". My whole life I've wondered about the fashion in this video. London.......really? My wife refers to this as the "dirty hillbilly" look. You have to give "Eileen" credit here for pulling off the overalls look with no shirt on underneath (is she even wearing underwear? 15 year old self would ask....often). The part that amazes me today to see people in the background ignoring the band and going about their lives (playing soccer, shopping, working). Do they not realize they're witnessing history??

Please enjoy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ohhh, Might As Well........

Jump by Van Halen

Released in December of 1983 as the first single off the band's sixth album, 1984. It reached #1 on the US charts and sold over 1 million copies.

The song was based around a keyboard riff from guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Lead singer, David Lee Roth, rejected the keyboard riff at first as not being the right direction for the band but Eddie had built a studio at his own home and completed the song anyway. Roth listened to the completed song while riding around in the back of an old car and came up with lyrics which he added to the song and this huge hit was born. The home studio led to conflict between Roth and Eddie and eventually to Roth leaving the band....only to return....and leave.....and return again (currently the band is ....together? Who knows?)

The video was directed by Roth and set the standard for "live" performance videos. Previously, bands would either film an actual live performance or would use multiple cameras to film a single performance. Roth filmed the band playing the song all the way through several times and then filmed a few insert shots of solos and the band goofing around and a new video style was born. The easiest way to tell how many times the band played along to the song is to count the different stage outfits Roth wears throughout the video. Because of Roth, spandex became the fashion for hard rock and metal bands......we have him to blame.

Please enjoy.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

All Of Us Do The Air Drums....All Of Us

In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins

Released in January of 1981, this was Phil's debut single. It reached the top 5 in most countries it was released in but not in the US, where it only reached #19. The video was played endlessly on MTV and was helpful in making this the signature song for Phil's solo career.

The song was written while Phil was going through a divorce and he said the lyrics came out from the very beginning almost exactly as they are on the final record. In the years since the song was released there's been an urban legend that has popped up about the song that suggests that Phil witnessed someone drowning and that he saw someone that was close enough to save them but they made no attempt. Of course, this isn't true. Phil has admitted that the song was just him being able to release some anger over his divorce and that the song really has zero meaning.

The drum sound for the song was recorded by running the audio through the microphone that the producer uses to talk to the band in the studio. Its clipped reverb sound became Phil's signature style. The song starts out with a drum machine but Phil's live drums come in at the 3 minute and 15 second mark and powers the remainder of the song. I can't think of a time that I've heard the song that hasn't ended up with anyone hearing it air drumming along to Phil's drum break.

The video has several strange images (it was the early days of music video, most artists were still trying to figure out the whole thing). Phil's sitting alone in a room. His own reflection appears and his head shatters.......umm, ok. He walks down a narrow corridor and a locked door suddenly flies open. But its the extreme close up on Phil's face (even Phil says he's not the most handsome guy) lit with a harsh overhead light that seems to make this video unnerving and sinister. Phil's anger in the lyrics seems to push on the edge of the screen. 

Please enjoy and just don't accuse Phil of drowning anyone......